Story by Ruth Nicolaus Because of his parents, Scott and Jenee Holub, and his granddad, George Rachau, Dillin Holub is involved in the sport he […]
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Meet the Member Dan Welsh
story by Lily Weinacht
“I’ve always been a cowboy at heart,” says Dan Welsh. The 41-year-old bull rider turned steer wrestler was first the son of a dairy farmer in Connecticut. Growing up, he showed dairy cows and even rode a few of them, but he didn’t throw his leg over a bull until he was 22. “A buddy of mine from college and I went to watch a rodeo in Glenn Falls, New York. He told me he was going to a practice pen the next day, so I rode along. Bulls were ten bucks a head and I rode the first two I got on.” This was in October of 1997 when he was in his second year at the State University of Cobleskill at New York and looking for the next school to transfer to. “I found Northwest Missouri State University had a rodeo team and my major in agricultural education. I transferred, jumped in the car all by myself and drove thirty hours. I dropped all my stuff in the dorm room and the first place I went was the rodeo grounds.”
Dan attended college in Missouri for another two years and befriended the rodeo team, pushing steers for the team ropers, who in turn ran roping steers in the bucking chutes for him. Friendships grew between Dan and Steven Snow, a bull rider on the college team, along with Miles Mitts, who rode bulls on the PRCA Great Lakes Circuit. Steven hooked Dan up at the practice pen in Nebraska on Friday nights. In 1999, Dan attended his first rodeo school and entered his first rodeo. “It was in Manhattan, Kansas, at a URA rodeo, and I rode my bull for seventy-four points. I won seventy-four bucks, and I was hooked!”
Dan competed in events held by the Bull Riders of America and National Federation of Professional Bull Riders, and joined the APRA in 2011 when he moved back to the East Coast. He won both the APRA finals and APRA Year-End titles that same year. Dan and his family make their home in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, and he currently serves as the APRA Interim Bull Riding Director. “My parents supported me the whole time. I rode bulls for eighteen years and retired at the American Finals Rodeo in Atlantic City when I was forty. When I started riding bulls, the legends were still riding, like Tuff Hedeman and Jim Sharp. I recall a rodeo at Springville, Missouri, that Steven Snow and I went to, where one of the promoters asked us to sign autographs. I looked down the table and there sat Tuff Hedeman and Luke Snyder, who had just won the PBR Finals as a rookie. People were coming through with programs and hats, and I was signing my name next to theirs! That moment, I knew I wanted to show people I was a bull rider with my riding, so that’s what I did for eighteen years, and it was good.”
Since retiring from bull riding, Dan is trying his hand at steer wrestling. “I went to my first clinic in May, put on by Tim Slater and Mike Smith, and it was a great clinic. Each steer I put my hands on I got them thrown. It’s just a new adventure and I’m excited about it!” Dan’s wife, Charlene, is the APRA Secretary and also works as a rodeo secretary for various association. His 12-year-old step-son, Colton, rides junior steers and their four-year-old son, Dillon, recently rode his first two sheep.
Dan’s latest venture is his two Brahman bulls, Gus and Woodrow. Gus was a Christmas present a couple of years ago and Woodrow is 11 months old. Dan first taught Gus to lead down their driveway, then took walks to get the mail and visit with neighbors. “It’s like training anything – it’s time and effort. We sometimes take him to rodeos, and it’s fun to take him and educate people about what a true Brahman looks like, and that not all bulls are mean.” Gus travels to rodeos with Dan, where people can sit in the saddle and take photos with him. Dan also works with their two horses, but he often rides Gus when the family trail rides. During the week, he is a food safety inspector for the United States Department of Agriculture.
“I’ve personally set a goal to be a forty-one-year-old rookie in the APRA steer wrestling,” Dan finishes. “While there are younger kids that are true young rookies, I’m a true old rookie. I rode bulls until I was forty, and I hope to be steer wrestling until I’m fifty.”